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    Henri Gervex - Rolla

    Henri Gervex – Rolla

    An artwork which stopped the traffic in Paris in 1878 is still daring after all these years.  Aged twenty-six, French artist Henri Gervex experienced a succès de scandale  when he exhibited Rolla, his most famous work. The painting was pulled from exhibition at the Salon by the Surintendant des beaux-arts on grounds of immorality, and subsequently put on public view by a Parisian dealer for three months where, according to Gervex, ‘there was an uninterrupted procession of visitors with a queue of carriages backed up to the Opera’.

    Sotheby’s will offer Henri Gervex’s réplique of Rolla, in which the artist faithfully reprises the detail and palette of the monumental original (now belonging to the French state, and a highlight of the recent Splendeurs et Misères exhibition in Paris and Amsterdam). Most likely painted on commission for a collector who wanted their own piece of the scandal, the painting is the first full version of Rolla to come to auction in over twenty-five years, and the only known variant of its size. It comes up in London at a sale of 19th century European Paintings on May 25, with an estimate of £400,000-600,000.

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